Chapter 2

On or about the first day of June


Estrelica sighed and ricocheted inside, listening to everyone trying to suss out their own particular madness. She’d never take the neighborhood by storm; she’d rather just walk in absently and see where the machine guns were coming from before she’d bother scattering her feathers all over, seeing where they’d land. She knew who to bum smokes off and who to offer them to and let her smile dance along obliviously until it was picked up by whoever could appreciate such an offering. No one had ever thrown pebbles at her window late at night when she stayed up reading about her name, and when they finally did come around it was always to bang on her door like she was immolating herself in some solo ceremony that everybody wanted in on. It wasn’t that she craved her aloneness any more than anyone else, but only a few handfuls of others enjoyed being alone with her. The way she saw the world made perfect sense if she could tell you without the presence of another to disrupt her innate intimacy. She either amazed you or disappointed you, depending on how you fell asleep at night.

She had never really cared if she were male or female, Eskimo or African, 14 or 86, and allowed her heart free reign to wander wherever it needed to find home and often found that when she was as deliriously happy as she could be, the thought came to her that she was going home again.

She may have first bloomed one day in school as a child when she was called upon to explain what made her happy as the quizzical looks of her teacher and peers quietly turned into muffled laughter. She turned to look out of the window by her desk, onto the empty playground and the curve of the hills beyond and knew that the life she had belonged only to her.

When she first realized that fear and loneliness are the best of friends, always gossiping to each other, and that they would skin you standing up, eat you alive and then toss back the bones, she learned how to stare them down until nothing but adventure and stillness were left, and fine-tuned her gears until she could slip from silence to fury in one breath.

Her moods, however, she could never trust, and sometimes her thoughts would tell her lies. And whenever she found herself sliding into the warm waters of self-pity, she’d think of how many people there actually are bored, lonely and depressed, and figured that if all those other people were busy being victims of themselves, no reason why she should be as well.

And when the night would pin her to her bed with her heart thumping against her chest and all of her ghosts were trampling her like some long forgotten curse, she’d think of how far she had come. Of the places she’d seen, of the walls she’d had to drill through to get there, and she’d think to herself, "Estrelica, you were always here for me when no one else was."

She had the kind of brown eyes that could make friends instantly with anyone with the same kind of eyes. She always wondered if people with blue eyes could be as intimate with each other as easily. No, she thought; they had to work their way up to brown eyes. Brown eyes lean over you waiting to give you what you want. Blue eyes just fold their hands and start talking about the weather.

You didn’t have to listen to her words to know what she was saying, and sometimes when she realized this she’d say something evil just to see if you were listening.

The one thing she wished for was to be able to say her own name as beautifully as it sounded to her, but whenever she met someone and had to exchange names, it was as if she were reduced to defining herself by how she uttered the syllables and inevitably made a shambles of it. She also wondered if she lived up to her name: Whether she carried herself like an Estrelica or did things that an Estrelica would do. How well she could do something never really mattered to her so much as if she could. Not being raised around horses, philosophy or motorcycles, she wondered if those who clutched such pursuits like a closed circuit of knowledge would be so kind as to get out of her way when she found herself obsessed by falcons, ships or violins.

She had an intrinsic knowledge of when she was ready for something, or when something was within her reach; and rather than just pretend, she kept a close watch on her heart and when the bells rang, she was out of the gates. When she’d hitchhike or find herself drawn to someone else, she’d proceed only if she felt comfortable. And this comfortability could often make her appear at ease in any situation, when, in fact, it was just her curiosity getting the better of her.

She had been raised and often did things with others in the latter years of their lives; those preparing for a rest or a death of some sort, and years later found herself always thinking of how something would end, be it a relationship, a trip or a Friday night. But since she had never been able to express her youth around those who had long since lived out theirs, she harbored the enthusiasm and zeal of a child well into her later years when those her own age had burned themselves out on youth long ago. She had never read any adventure books when she was a child because she could never think that the possibilities of an adventurous life awaited someone so ingrained with a world obviously apart and probably irreconcilable with anyone else’s.

She knew there were only two basic types of people: The pretty and the beautiful. The pretty knew they were pretty and used it to get whatever they wanted, whereas the beautiful had no clue they were beautiful and spent their days doing what had to be done for others. But because she realized this, she felt that she must lie somewhere between the two, but where, she had no idea. The beauty of others she would treasure all the more because they were so often oblivious to it. Like the strong who are drawn to those they cannot intimidate, she was drawn to the vulnerable who never thought of it as a weakness.

Her life was perpetuated by inertia, which was both her strength and her weakness. When she was walking, swimming, in flight, she was able to pierce what was troubling her most and do what she thought she’d never be able to do. And when she was still, stagnation had to be fought off like dry rot lest she let herself unravel to the point where she would disappear like the wail of a harmonica five miles off in the darkness.

She appreciated the fact that newspapers, televisions and radios were there to distract her from her own demons, but they also distracted her from her angels and her sense of time. Her sense of infinity was something she guarded quite closely and could slip into at will whenever talk of war echoed from the streets. And she could not recall not being alive, so her deaths she lived out whenever she felt herself changing from one part of her life to another.

She often found it hard to take the mirror seriously because despite her years, she still imagined herself as a child forever waiting to be of age when she could claim the world as her own. She’d always known what she wanted, but had no idea about how she would go about getting it. She knew the world wasn’t quite as simple as to just ask for what she wanted, so she learned to act as if she belonged no matter where she was. She imagined everybody else doing the same thing and soon realized that the world was indeed filled with nothing but children, some who still threw tantrums and some who had grown out of it.

She accepted and appreciated the fragility of people and made herself available to anyone who wanted to meet her, but didn’t press the issue if someone wasn’t ready. Hide and seek was a game she remembered from years ago, but saw so many around her still playing. She grew weary of the times she had so yearned to meet a prospective lover only to end up being engaged in a mating ritual that had nothing to do with romance and everything to do with a very poorly played game of five-finger stud.

The number of times she’d seen a mismatched couple hand in hand eventually made her resign herself to the fact that maybe once you reach an age when you can’t stand the loneliness anymore, you settle for as good a match as possible.

She also thought of the many kings she had met over the years and what dear friends they had become, and if in fact it was worth risking such a solidly based friendship for what might not develop into a relationship and the point of no return when even the friendship will have changed too dramatically. She wondered how it could be that something as enjoyable as lying with each other and the sharing of each others thoughts could unravel into the battleground of idiosyncratic personal needs. Most lovers she’d observed only ever wanted to mother or be fathered, father or be mothered. Where were the few who had no expectations, only joy?

She had taught herself how to waltz and how to join a ceili; whether she’d ever have a partner or not didn’t matter to her. She’d followed her soul this far, and graciously let it lead her into forever.


Estrelica & Vic, Chapter 3

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